karen had wanted to set up a mock writers room class while i was still in the fellowship, but the timing didn’t work out with the teacher’s schedule at the time. he’s available now though, and karen was nice enough to invite me back to take the class even though i’m done with the fellowship. the class is twice a week for 6 weeks, with myself, the 2 current fellows (tina and sasha), and a fellow from several years ago (ivory).
the teacher is joel thompson – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1403671/.
he sometimes teaches at ucla extension, so if you can take a class with him, do it!
the class is run like a writers room, and we’re writing a spec episode of the nickelodeon show, big time rush. we started out pitching ideas for episodes, and the class decided to go with one i pitched. we broke the A story first, worked out all the beats, then moved onto the B story. we just finished week 4, and started to move from outline to actual script pages.
it’s really fun to work in a group, but if you’re used to writing by yourself, writing as a group is a very different experience. writing skill alone isn’t enough if you want to be a tv writer. you have to pitch your ideas and jokes to the room. if they don’t like something, it won’t get used. it’s always a great feeling when you make the other writers laugh and an idea of yours gets used in the script. however, it’s no surprise that sometimes people have differing thoughts on how the story should go, or a joke, or a line of dialogue. if you can’t sell people on your idea, then you have to embrace what the room decides and build from there. this is why i think taking improv is so valuable. you have to be very flexible, and you can’t think any single idea our yours is too precious.
a while back, i took a writing class at io west that was also run like a writers room. it was taught by ed lee – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1131793/, who had written for the drew carey show and is now writing on are you there, chelsea? if you can take his comedy writers room class, i highly recommend it! you won’t get a spec for your portfolio out of it, but the experience is really valuable.